We’ve reached the 2-year mark of a pandemic with no signs of restoration of the previous status quo any time soon. Business owners all over the country were forced to adhere to lockdown protocols, pushing many to adapt, some even adopting online selling.
To address safety considerations and with customer convenience in mind, sites such as Shopee, Lazada, and Facebook Marketplace have emerged as major players of e-commerce. Although not as well known as its counterparts here in the Philippines, Shopify has started to gain traction among retailers and consumers alike. For those who are new to Shopify stores, my aim is to guide you in experiencing an unfamiliar platform that may help your business.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform equipped with easy-to-use tools for retailers to build either a store fully supported online or a digital counterpart of an existing physical store. Putting up a Shopify store expands your presence globally without having to leave your home. While not as prominent as other e-commerce platforms, as of 2021, there are 2,297 million websites using Shopify. This summary will serve as a guide to encourage you to try creating your very own Shopify store.
Setting up the Shopify store
Step 1: Branding the Shopify Store
What’s exciting about Shopify is that it offers a free 14-day trial that allows new users to explore the site without having to make a long-term commitment. Before entering your email address to sign up for an account, be sure that you have already decided on your Shopify store’s official name. Although you may change the actual store’s name, you cannot change your domain name and URL linked to the original name that you chose unless you purchase a custom domain name.
While it’s fun to come up with names that fit your brand and audience, you may also use one of Shopify’s free tools – a business name generator that can help get you started with your brainstorming. Just be sure that the name you eventually settle on isn’t being used by another business. For your business logo, you may outsource it to a professional designer or use another free Shopify tool, the Logo Maker, to serve as a launch pad for your designs.
If you need a way to handle your customers and data effectively, a CRM would be the best way to go. Having an effective ShopifyCRM can really boost your marketing and sales capabilities
Step 2: Preparing the Products
As a kid, you probably enjoyed designing a make-believe storefront with empty boxes and colored paper. Similarly, taking pictures of your products to continue building your Shopify store is a fun and worthwhile endeavor. Shopify suggests a DIY shoot and recommends using a white background; for each product, play around with different angles and positions so that you have plenty of choices. I cannot stress enough the importance of your visuals and how they must highlight the strength of your products as well as accurately depict how they look in real life.
As much as possible, use high-resolution photos. Adequate lighting during your shoot prevents shadows from forming and grainy outcomes. Invest in taking the time to really capture the beauty of your products. You may even create your own video thanks to another free tool, the Shopify Video Maker.
Once you’re satisfied with the pictures that you’ve selected, you may begin filling out your page. Just like posting on social media, uploading photos to your Shopify store is very easy; just click on Add Product from the Products page. Don’t forget to include the name of your product and a brief description.
As your customers are unable to physically inspect your products, write clear and enticing captions to engage them. To help them easily find what they are looking for, you may opt to organize your products into collections.
Shopify also helps track your products with inventory management to ensure that everything on your Shopify store is available and not out of stock.
Step 3: Choosing the theme
Your Shopify store may reflect you as a person and as a business owner in various and interesting ways. To further personalize your store, select a theme that not only reflects your brand and the products that you carry but also fulfills the function of walking your customers through your store with ease.
While most of the themes offered by Shopify have different prices, you may try them out as many times as you want for free, as long as the theme isn’t published.
A filter option on the left side guides you in weighing your options; you can even rearrange the sections based on your desired layout. It might be tempting to go overboard, but go easy when selecting colors and font styles. Minimizing these reduces your clutter and leads your customers to focus on what’s important and not feel overwhelmed.
Afterward, test the theme’s layout yourself to check if it’s easy to navigate through your Shopify store. Observe the color combinations and make sure that all text can be read.
Step 4: Planning the Shipping
There are many ways to tackle shipping methods, but one efficient way is to consolidate all your stocks. Partner with a cloud logistics network such as LOCAD, which offers an end-to-end fulfillment solution that stores your inventory in numerous fulfillment centers in the Philippines. Establishing your warehouse locations frees you up to focus on your business.
Once a customer places an order and buys a product from your Shopify store, LOCAD starts preparing it, ready for shipment and delivery including real-time updates for you via a user-friendly dashboard. This is especially useful in case you decide to expand and cater to international customers, as Shopify supports the creation of Shipping Zones for countries or regions that have the same shipping rates.
Step 5: Selecting the Payment Methods
Before launching your Shopify store, determine what payment methods your store will accept. Although some of Shopify’s payment methods are not applicable to the Philippines, Shopify has partnered with some local payment providers such as GrabPay, Dragonpay, GCash via PayMongo, and even credit and debit cards, with a percentage deducted to cover transaction and commission fees.
An Invoice Generator, another free tool provided by Shopify, helps guide you in billing and collecting money from your customers. Once you’re ready, take a look at this Shopify checklist to put your mind at ease before the actual launch.
Building your Shopify store is another way of addressing our current situation globally by attracting potential customers to your products despite physical limitations. While this guide may seem like an oversimplification as it condenses numerous actions into just 5 steps, setting up a Shopify store really isn’t as daunting as it appears.
With any new venture, it becomes easier once you familiarize yourself with Shopify, and help topics on practically any possible question that you might think of are accessible and easy to learn and digest.
They also offer Shopify Lite, which does not have a storefront but is more affordable in case you want to link an existing ecommerce platform to Shopify. At the very least, I encourage you to check out the 14-day trial to see if Shopify is a suitable e-commerce solution to the growing needs of your business. Partnering that with LOCAD automates many of your logistical concerns, giving you a worry-free first-time Shopify experience.